MELBOURNE (Reuters) – The Australian national women’s soccer team can “empathise” with the country’s netballers in their fight for the pay and conditions they “truly deserve”, striker Kyah Simon said.
Players in the professional Super Netball league are locked in an increasingly bitter dispute with governing body Netball Australia over terms for a new collective bargaining agreement.
The Matildas, who reached the semi-finals of the recent Women’s World Cup, fought a similar battle against Football Australia in 2015 to win a better pay deal.
“We can really empathise,” Simon told media on Friday.
“The Matildas team were in that same position only a few years ago when we were fighting for our CBA rights.
“I really feel for the girls, I know what they’re going through … It’s never easy fighting for the rights that you truly deserve, and you’re being starved of, so I hope they can come to a resolution fast.”
The netballers have been effectively unemployed since the last CBA expired in September.
Netball Australia said on Wednesday it was committed to providing players with “significant annual guaranteed increases” to base salaries and offered an interim pay deal.
Players rejected it.
The netballers’ push for better pay has also been backed by Australia’s cricketers, who pledged a “fighting fund” last month to support them during the stand-off.
Simon was speaking at a ceremony at the Melbourne Cricket Ground where she accepted the Don Award, Australia’s highest sporting honour, on behalf of the Matildas.
The women’s national side were recognised for their semi-finals run at the World Cup, which generated record viewership and crowds for women’s sporting contests in Australia.
While the Matildas enjoy pay parity with the national men’s side, players in the domestic women’s competition often struggle to make ends meet due to modest salaries.
Wellington Phoenix midfielder Chloe Knott cited financial issues as one of the reasons for quitting the side this week, saying the “current financial situation is unsustainable for female footballers”.
(Reporting by Ian Ransom in Melbourne; Editing by Peter Rutherford)